Last March Google initiated a trial of what it calls “remarketing” for display and text ads throughout its content network. Today it’s opening up the option for all AdWords advertisers. To be clear this is not “search retargeting” and doesn’t involve any Google.com query data.
The benefit of this is being able to reach consumers, throughout the Google content network (including on YouTube), who came to an advertiser’s website but didn’t transact. Pages can be tagged and cookies are used to identify that visitor or a category of people, who then later see an ad or offer directed specifically at their interests. The Google AdWords blog explains how it works:
Let’s say you’re a basketball team with tickets that you want to sell. You can put a piece of code on the tickets page of your website, which will let you later show relevant ticket ads (such as last minute discounts) to everyone who has visited that page, as they subsequently browse sites in the Google Content Network. In addition to your own site, you can also remarket to users who visited your YouTube brand channel or clicked your YouTube homepage ad.
You can also run a number of remarketing campaigns at the same time. For example, you could offer discount game tickets to users who’ve previously visited your tickets page, advertise VIP hospitality packages to users who clicked on your “How to get to the arena” page, and advertise a sale on team merchandise to users who previously visited your YouTube brand channel.
You might be inclined to call this “behavioral targeting” and so did I on the phone with Google yesterday. However, Google doesn’t like that term and finds it imprecise. In addition there’s a stigma associated with it among privacy groups and to some degree the FTC (and maybe some regulation coming in the near future). Thus Google uses the more positive term “Interest Based Advertising.”
Accordingly and in the same breath that Google discusses the benefits of remarketing it also points out its Ad Preferences Manager, which was the first such system to allow consumers to completely opt-out of any form of personalized or behavioral targeting. It also allows consumers to specify and refine the categories of ads they would like to see. Previously Google said that for every 15 people who click through to the privacy controls and preferences that “four users edit preferences, one opts out and 10 do nothing.”
In its PR materials Google includes quotes from advertisers that were part of the beta phase of remarketing about the system’s apparent effectiveness:
Michael Menis, Vice President of Global Interactive Marketing of the InterContinental Hotels Group, said: “Remarketing on the Google Content Network has been a great way to entice users who have already expressed interest in our hotels. We’ve found it to be such an effective solution that we’re increasing our investment in it.” IHG uses remarketing
Paul Golden, Chief Marketing Officer of Samsung, said, “We saw very strong performance for our remarketing campaign for the Behold II. We were able to reach over 100,000 users who interacted with our YouTube Homepage Ad during Valentine’s Day, as they subsequently browsed the web.” to promote offers or incentives to users who had previously clicked on its hotel websites.
As mentioned this doesn’t work formally with Google search — Yahoo does do search retargeting by using queries to inform what display ads are shown throughout Yahoo — but it can work indirectly with search on Google.
A user searches on a query, “discount cruises to Mexico,” for example, and clicks through on a responsive ad. That person arrives at the advertiser’s site but later clicks away without making a purchase or taking some other desired action (it may be too “early” for them to buy). Search has effectively “found” or identified the user via the query and CTR, and brought that person to the advertiser’s site for tagging/targeting. That same individual could later be remarketed to using this system and potentially attracted by Google content ads that address the expressed interest in discount cruises.
In this way search and remarketing can be informally connected, giving marketers some interesting ways to target people “higher up in the funnel” and throughout the consumer research process.